Smith, Furniture Row Racing Produce Solid Performance in Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 2009) -- Regan Smith and the Furniture Row Racing team finished with a solid 21st-place finish in Sunday's rain-shortened Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
The sophomore driver consistently ran with the lead pack and was positioned as high as 10th in NASCAR's traditional season opener, which was called for rain on Lap 152 of 200.
"The Furniture Row team gave me a good car and it was fun to drive," said Smith, the 2008 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year. "The car got better as the race went on, thanks to the great calls by our crew chief Jay Guy. We also had excellent pit stops. A great team effort for our first race together."
Smith started the 500 from the rear of the field in the 42nd spot. He was patient early, but then started to march forward in his No. 78 Chevy Impala SS. By Lap 55 he was running in 25th place.
Though he was able to avoid a few accidents on the 2.5-mile oval, Smith did get boxed in on a Lap 137 multicar mishap. After getting hit at least three times and bouncing off of cars, the Furniture Row machine came away from the accident relatively unscathed. However, the incident dropped him from 14th to 28th in track position.
"That halted our momentum, but we came charging back," noted Smith. "I really wish we could have completed the full 200 laps because I truly feel that we had the equipment to finish in the top 10."
Team general manager Joe Garone had mixed feelings about the finishing result.
"We were better than 21st -- we all know that," said Garone. "But what's important is that we got off to a great start to the season. Just to qualify for this race was an accomplishment, and then to go out and run the way we did today was both gratifying and encouraging. We are upbeat about our future races."
The next Sprint Cup race for the Denver, Colo.-based Furniture Row Racing team will be March 1 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.